Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Jeffersons

Oh we movin' on up, to the east side...

Certainly one bad apple don't spoil the whole damn bunch, but in the case of the Jefferson family, the bunch may have been spoiled to begin with. I really hate to call negative attention to New Orleans, (yet again,) but my calling is quite clear. After doing a little digging through the Times-Picayune, I collected a few tidbits which I'd now like to share, but get the Alka-Selzer out, what follows is not for the weak of stomach.

US Representative William Jefferson is currently under indictment for 16 counts of bribery, racketeering, fraud and obstruction of justice in a case which has already seen two of his cronies plead guilty. This would be the iGate deal in which Jefferson allegedly used his official clout to broker deals in Africa. Despite the fact that Jefferson was caught on tape soliciting a bribe and was found with $90,000 of that money squirrelled away in his freezer, (which he has yet to "rationally explain" as he promised,) an amazing number of his constituents refuse to believe he is guilty, instead opting for all manner of explanations from "political witch-hunts" to racism. Indeed, his constituents are so enamored of him, he easily coasted to a recent re-election victory over opponent Karen Carter even though her funds outweighed his at a ratio of 4.5 to 1. (Jefferson had slightly over 50% of the vote. Of course, only about 20% of the registered voters bothered to go to the polls.)

According to documents, Bill Jefferson made sure that not only he profited from his office, but his family as well. The indictment lists "Family Members 1-5" as beneficiaries of his supposed shady dealings, one of which is thought to be Andrea Jefferson, Bill's wife and manager of ANJ Group LLC which reportedly received money from the iGate deal. Andrea made headlines back in 1994 when she was paid $50,000 by Grambling State University to teach a class which had a grand total of one student. She also sued Southern University in 2003 for firing her from a top position. Part of the settlement was a job as a fundraiser which paid $72,000/year and it is rumoured that hubby Bill used his local clout to arrange the settlement.

The indictment also indicates that his brother Mose (referred to as "Family Member 2") was also part of the scheme. Mose Jefferson has recently been linked to a bribery scheme involving Ellenese Brooks-Sims, former New Orleans School Superintendant, who entered a guilty plea concerning $140,000 dollars in bribe money she received from Mose, a former cog in Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's political outfit. (And we all know what a shining example of political incorruptability that outfit was.)

But like Bill, Mose knows how to take care of the family too. Mose is the head of BEP Consulting which owns an eight unit building in Central City. This building houses the "unofficial" HQ of Bill's political group, the Progressive Democrats, the office of former city council-whore Renee Gill Pratt and some of the Jefferson families other "non-profit" organizations. Ownership of the building has been shuffled between many of the Jefferson's through the years, each time being sold for just $10,000. Care Unlimited, one of the Jefferson's pet projects housed in the building, has received millions of dollars in state grants thanks to Gill-Pratt who is also a former (or possibly current) girlfriend of Mose and former aide to Bill. One of the units in the building is rented out for 21,000 taxpayer dollars per year, (twice the cost the building was purchased for by BEP,) to current state rep Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, daughter of Bill.

But wait... there's more!

Yet another sister, Betty, was helped to the tax assessors office by Bill and his political groups. Soon after winning the job in 1998, she slashed the taxes on a 27 unit apartment building owned by brother Bill to almost nothing. Betty and Mose also garnered criticism in trying to profit from a deal involving school uniforms in 1989 when she sat on the New Orleans School Board but no wrongdoing was found.

Not related by blood, but by marriage, (and possibly by deed,) Bill's brother-in-law, former state judge Alan Green, is currently serving a four-year sentence for accepting bribes from a bail bonds company in Jefferson Parish.

And some time back, Bill inked a deal with Daimler-Chrysler to donate 16 automobiles to the city for help in recoving from Hurricane Katrina. Although the vehicles were signed over to the New Orleans City Council, most were then handed back to "non-profit" organizations run by Jefferson family members or associated with the Jefferson political machine. In fact, at least four of the autos were donated by then current councilwoman Renee Gill-Pratt. (Remember her?) She sent two of the autos to Care Unlimited, one of which she had been using as her personal vehicle until she was caught. Soon after her defeat in the last election she was hired by, (take a guess,) Care Unlimited, where she has resumed use of her shiny new auto. Luckily, the money still rolls into Care Unlimited thanks to generous help from Jalila Jefferson Bullock who now sits in the legislative seat once held by Gill-Pratt.

The FBI is currently investigating organizations for- and non-profit connected to the Jefferson camp, including the Central City Adult Education Agency, N.O. Drug Education Intervention, Care Unlimited Inc., and Orleans Metropolitan Housing and Community Development Incorporated. One has to wonder how many worms you have to uncover in a basket of apples before you realize that they're all rotten. Why has no-one ever put all this together before? Surely New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan is smart enough to connect the dots. Oh, but then Eddie is a close and personal friend of Bill. In fact, Bill was instrumental in furthering Jordan's career. Jordan, likewise, is a staunch supporter of Jefferson. Fucking Scumbags.

From the cotton fields of Lake Providence, (where Bill and his siblings were born and raised,) to REMCO, (a rent-to-own company owned by the family which faced continual tax problems,) to the slumlord years of the 80's, (Bill's housing units were some of the most distressed in the city and were plagued by tax problems,) and to Harvard and law firms, (yes, more tax woes,) political organizations and Capitol Hill, life has been a strange road for the Jefferson family. The family farm on Jefferson Road, (yes, named after the family,) in Lake providence no longer stands, destroyed ages ago by a tornado. The cemetery where his parents are buried lies along the road amid the cotton fields they once worked, but at the end of Jefferson Road there's a very foreboding structure. Surrounded by fences and razorwire stands the Lake Providence Jail. Now that's irony for you.

4 comments:

A Louisiana Resident said...

"Despite the fact that Jefferson was caught on tape soliciting a bribe and was found with $90,000 of that money squirrelled away in his freezer, (which he has yet to "rationally explain" as he promised,) an amazing number of his constituents refuse to believe he is guilty, instead opting for all manner of explanations from "political witch-hunts" to racism. Indeed, his constituents are so enamored of him, he easily coasted to a recent re-election victory over opponent Karen Carter even though her funds outweighed his at a ratio of 4.5 to 1. (Jefferson had slightly over 50% of the vote. Of course, only about 20% of the registered voters bothered to go to the polls.)"

I'm sorry, but you really oversimplified this one. A very *small* percent of his constiuency believe that he's not guilty. The numbers don't reflect what most people in the city believe about Jefferson. Right before the election, Jefferson Parish's (no relation) lauded sheriff, Harry Lee, drummed up major support for Jefferson after he went into a mostly racist and misguided tirade against his opponent (who, by the way, is an idiot no better than W. Jefferson herself) Karen Carter. The clout and power that Harry Lee possesses is unebelievable -- people listen and do what he says. All polls before Harry Lee launched his personal campaign against Carter had her winning by a landslide.

M Styborski said...

I think we have the same idea on the constituents and how they percieve WJ's guilt, unless you had a typo in your comment.

I did oversimplify things, but if you're keeping up with the family shenanigans you know what a gordian knot this whole situation is. I have a feeling that this is going to go down hard on a lot of people from the ground up, possibly even as far as Marc Morial.

As for Harry Lee, when isn't he in trouble with the media. I have no clue what he was doing sticking his nose in that race. I've heard rumours of buisiness connections with the Jeffersons, but nothing I can solidly confirm. It is quite scary, the amount of power Lee holds in Orleans but at least he has the ability to effectively fight crime, unlike the toy soldiers that have paraded through the top ranks of the NOPD. But that's a whole other barrel of monkeys.

Thanks for commenting.

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